One of my favorite co-workers at IBM was Brian Carpenter. He came to IBM from CERN (home of the Web), and one of his big interests (then and now) was the need to move from Internet Protocol Version 4 (which had a hard limit of 4.3 billion IP addresses) to IP Version 6 (which allows 340 undecillion addresses, or 79 octillion times as many as IPv4).
It’s been an uphill battle – people found many ways to extend the IPv4 address space (such as hiding entire internal networks behind one gateway address – if your computer has an address starting with 192.168, 172, or 10, it’s using that technique). But slowly but surely, IPv6 has been making its way into the world.
For some reason, our TiVo didn’t record last night’s Rachel Maddow Show. I knew I could get it on the computer or the Amazon Fire Stick – but when I tried to watch it, I couldn’t get past the “Select TV Provider” step for nbc.com. The browser would fail to connect to oauth.xfinity.com and the Fire Stick would just give up.
I tried pinging oauth.xfinity.com from several systems at home, and none of them could reach it. Just for fun, I logged into the system hosting my blog (which is on a Linode server) and tried pinging from there – lo and behold, it worked! But the messages from the ping command were odd – instead of showing the IPv4 address of the system I was pinging, it showed the IPv6 address (something I’d never encountered before). And if I forced a ping to the IPv4 address, the ping failed, just like it did from home.
I did some searching and found out how to enable IPv6 on my router; I rebooted it and the cable modem, and suddenly I was able to ping Xfinity’s server; even better, I could authorize the Fire Stick (and my computers) to watch NBC programs.